Nursing at 10,000 ft.
I've put off writing this post because I'm pretty sure I'm going to offend some people. But I've finally decided to just bite the bullet, so here goes.
As mothers, we make many of what I like to refer to as "lifestyle choices." Cloth vs. disposable. Working mom vs. stay at home. Infant seat vs. convertible. But here's the bottom line: BREASTFEEDING IS NOT A LIFESTYLE CHOICE.
Just as our bodies were created with the internal structures necessary to create babies, we were created with the tools necessary to feed them. Why do we doubt our bodies' abilities to feed our babies? It seems like women today have serious trust issues with ourselves- we doubt our ability to birth without medical intervention and/or pain medication, too, but that's another post.
To the new moms out there: I'm sorry if you're tired. I'm sorry if you're frustrated. Aren't we all? But why not try to adapt your technique before you give up and pick up a bottle. Have your husband make sure to bring you food and water while you're nursing- maybe throw in a back/neck massage, too. Co-sleeping can make a huge difference in the amount of sleep you can get as a breastfeeding mom. And I'm not opposed to the occasional bottle of pumped milk given in a pinch.
Are you really too embarrassed to use your breasts for what they're made for? I've heard this excuse from the same women I see exposing more boob in their bikinis at the beach than nursing their babies.
A. Get a nursing cover.
B. Buy/rent a pump. Pump at home and carry expressed milk in a bottle with you when you're out and about.
Are you having "technical" issues with latch/soreness/etc? Talk to a lactation consultant/La Leche League leader. They are professionals and the experts in this area. Don't be afraid to ask for help!
Are you a working mom? I am. In fact, I work full-time, and I'm in the military- probably the least pumping-friendly environment there is. But guess what? I can manage to find 15 minutes in the morning and afternoon to pump. I guarantee you spend that much time getting a cup of coffee. Can't you spare it for your baby? Besides, I so look forward to coming home from work, sitting down with Lucy, and feeding her. What an amazing way to regain that sense of closeness with my daughter after being away during the day!
Do you think breastfeeding is inconvenient? That's a matter of opinion. I don't know about you, but my boobs go with my everywhere. It's awfully nice not to have to worry about carrying bottles, formula, etc. with me all the time. This is especially important for the notorious night feeding. Is getting out of your nice, warm bed to fetch a bottle (assuming you have one pre-made) and waiting while it warms really that much easier than simply pulling your baby closer to you, letting him/her latch on, and drifting back to sleep together?
Also, consider this: flu season is upon us. What's the best way to protect your baby from not only the flu, but from colds, ear infections, and other illnesses? You guessed it. So what's more important to you- a few extra hours of sleep, or helping develop your baby's immune system? I guarantee you'll be getting much less sleep when he/she has the flu than from breastfeeding once or twice a night.
Granted, there are legitimate reasons justifying bottlefeeding. Some women genuinely have supply issues, but this phenomenon isn't nearly as widespread as many women believe. And even if you have a problem producing enough for your child, there are things you can do to help- from prescriptions, to herbs such as fenugreek, to simply nursing more frequently.
The bottom line: you wouldn't put your child in the car without a car seat. So why would you take your child out into the world without offering him/her the protection mother's milk provides? I snagged this video from Julie's blog, and it sums everything up nicely.
Sometimes being a mom means putting your baby's needs first, knowing that the "easy" way isn't always the best way.